A Cohesive Team versus Heroic Individuals – Which is Better?

January 28, 2009
64 Views

One of my SAS colleagues in India, Ashit Panjwani, was recently quoted about half way into an article in India’s IT Weekly, Express Computer, “Leading through Enterprise Performance Management (EPM).” — Ashit is under the subheading “Getting the Right Tool.” What I liked about this article is that the author shifted from describing the standard fluff and shallow rhetoric about EPM in the first half to get to the key point. Ashit explains it well, by answering how you do it. That is, how do you implement EPM?

One argument I could have with Ashit (and I believe dissent and debate are healthy for organizations up to a point) is a term he used. He says, “By adding clear strategies to the mix (of best practices), your employees will swim together towards common goals.” I would have used a rowing crew analogy for employees instead of individual swimmers.

Why are teams important to me?

Have you ever played an instrument in a band or orchestra or sung in a chorus? Have you ever played reasonably serious team sport? I have (including college football), and teamwork is always fulfilling. With true team behavior you can win. Without it, you lose. The symphony conductor does not ask the wo


One of my SAS colleagues in India, Ashit Panjwani, was recently quoted about half way into an article in India’s IT Weekly, Express Computer, “Leading through Enterprise Performance Management (EPM).” — Ashit is under the subheading “Getting the Right Tool.” What I liked about this article is that the author shifted from describing the standard fluff and shallow rhetoric about EPM in the first half to get to the key point. Ashit explains it well, by answering how you do it. That is, how do you implement EPM?

One argument I could have with Ashit (and I believe dissent and debate are healthy for organizations up to a point) is a term he used. He says, “By adding clear strategies to the mix (of best practices), your employees will swim together towards common goals.” I would have used a rowing crew analogy for employees instead of individual swimmers.

Why are teams important to me?

Have you ever played an instrument in a band or orchestra or sung in a chorus? Have you ever played reasonably serious team sport? I have (including college football), and teamwork is always fulfilling. With true team behavior you can win. Without it, you lose. The symphony conductor does not ask the woodwinds or strings to play loud; they play together. There are sports examples as evidence that performance from individual stars is much less preferable than teamwork. The obvious example was the initial USA Olympics basketball “dream team” of NBA all-star basketball players. They failed to win the gold medal. In later Olympics, they were coached to meld as a unit and won the gold. 
Very recently, a New York Times article reviewed the book “The Yankee Years” co-written by the New York Yankees ex-coach, Joe Torre. The review states, “The hallmark of the Yankees who won World Series championships in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 was gritty team play: they weren’t famous for a roster of flashy superstars or power hitters; rather, they were a resolute band of brothers, who put collective play above individual stats — an ensemble distinguished by its chemistry on the field and in the clubhouse, a team renowned for its resourcefulness, its determination and its ability to grind out win after win after win.” The article then describes the Yankees’ dynasty decline after 2000 from hiring highly paid individual stars.
My debate with Ashit is that the analogy of employees as a rowing crew with synchronized oar strokes is a better example than his individual swimmers. Performance management involves alignment of employee teams with a common goal — typically the executive team’s strategic objectives. When employees pull their own weight in a unified and sychronized way then the results will be better than uncoordinated heroic efforts of a few

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